Monsoon magic

As I've said on my other blog, the monsoon is one of my favourite seasons. There really is something amazing about it, and the monsoon touches the extremes of moods, from the dramatic (torrents of rain) to the awe-inspiring (thunder, lightning, winds and rain) to the bathetic (trickly, drippy rain - as if the cistern is leaking again). India being a largely pastoral society and that too, one with subsistence farms and lack of sophisticated farming methods, the rain is truly the farmer's friend, if it comes at the right time. And rain has always been celebrated here, from classical music - Raaga Malhar - to a number of folk and movie songs. There is even a famous story about how Akbar's beloved court singer Tansen was challenged by jealous rivals to sing a Raaga which would result in him being surrounded by flames if he sang correctly, and how he taught his daughter to sing Raaga Malhar which of course brought down life-giving rain at the right moment.

I suppose it isn't surprising that people living in damper climates (England?) dislike the rain, but even when I was in France for the most water-logged year of my life, I still enjoyed the rain. Rain in India is traditionally also held to be 'lover's weather' and many mythological stories and even film stories are based on this mood created by the monsoon. It is the feeling of being shut off from the whole world and ensconced in your own private one, cut off from sight and sound of others by the volume ( in both ways) of the water pouring down that does it. Some of Hindi films' most romantic songs and most romantic interludes (Aradhana - Roop tera mastana) are set in the rain:

Rimjhim gire saawan

Zindagi bhar nahin bhulegi

Ab ke sajan saawan main

Barso re megha

naino mein badraa chaaye

And of course, Shubha Mudgal's exuberant Ab ke saawan ...

I find myself in a mood of exhileration whenever there are grey, water-bearing clouds covering the sky, be it summer or winter. I love the damp chill of winter morn ings when it has just rained, and everything is lit with a more dramatic effect because of the looming clouds. And during the summer, Delhi's hailstorms are all the more loved for their brief intensity and the respite they provide from the searing heat. But during the monsoons...I find myself cursing the need to go out to work and earn a living, preferring instead to go for a drenching walk in the pouring rain, jumping in and out of puddles and coming to rest for a steaming cup of coffee or tea and a good murder mystery, eating a freshly roasted bhutta with lashings of lemon, salt and chilli on it, driving through the slick city streets, watching the rain come down through my bedroom screen door...what are your favourite things to do in the rain?

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